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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to Henry Clinton
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
July 14, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 255-258


Charlestown, 14th July, 1780.


About the time that the Beaumont sailed with my last letters, Lieut. Gordon of the 16th Regt. arrived with Dispatches from General Campbell at Pensacola, which he will have the honour of delivering to Your Excellency. I was extremely sorry to learn that the State of the Place, & that of their Enemies in the Neighbourhood of it, were very different from what I had heard a few days before, through the Channel of a private Letter from St. Augustine; And I am the more concerned, as the relative Situation of this Place, the State of the Naval Affairs here, & the present condition of the province, render it utterly impossible for me to give Assistance. For to attempt it with any degree of prudence, and to do it effectually, a Convoy would be wanted, of more considerable Force than could be given from hence, and a greater detachment of Troops than could be spared, consistent with the security of this important Province; and indeed I think it right to take this opportunity of remarking to Your Excellency that, if even Pensacola should escape the present danger, the Navigation of a Fleet of Transports from North America must always be tedious and difficult, and much exposed to the Cruisers from St. Domingo. I should therefore be of opinion that it would be fortunate if His Majesty's Ministers would think proper to annex it to the Jamaica Command, to which it is contiguous, & from which it might be speedily supported.

In case of a Misfortune at Pensacola, St. Augustine becomes a Frontier in this Quarter, & I think I shall direct Lieut. Colonel Clarke to take the Command there, with the Regiment of Wissenbach and some Provincials, & remove the detachments of the 60th (upon which, from their composition, there can be no great dependence)

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to Savannah, to assist in the interior business of the province; For with East Florida in our possession on one Side, & South Carolina on the other, it is not probable that Georgia can be an object to a foreign Enemy.

Since my arrival at this place I have been employed in the internal Regulations of the Province, & settling the Militia of the lower districts, both of which are in forwardness, & I have kept up a constant correspondence with the Frontiers & the interior parts of North Carolina, where the Aspect of Affairs is not so peaceable as when I wrote last. Majr. General de Kalb is certainly at Hilsborough with 2,000 continental Troops, including some Cavalry, & said to be preparing to advance to Salisbury; Porterfield is in the Neighborhood of Salisbury with 300 Virginians, & Rutherford with some Militia with him; Caswell with 1,500 Militia is march'd from Cross Creek to the Deep River, between Hillsborough & Salisbury, and Sumpter, with about the same Number of Militia, is advanced as far as the Catauba Settlement. Lord Rawdon reports to me that many of the disaffected South Carolinians from the Waxhaw, and other Settlements on the Frontier, whom he had put on parole, have availed themselves of the general Release of the 20th of June, & have joined General Sumpter.

Accounts from Virginia, thro' different Channels, say that two Thousand five hundred of their Militia had followed de Kalb, that the Assembly had voted five thousand men to be immediately drafted, to serve as a Corps of Observation, & had vested their Governor with absolute power during their Recess. The Government of North Carolina is likewise making great exertions to raise Troops, & persecute our Friends in the most cruel manner, in consequence of which Colonel Bryan, altho' he had promised to wait for my orders, lost all patience, & rose with about 800 men on the Yadkin, and by a difficult & dangerous March joined Major McArthur on the Borders of Anson County; about two thirds only of his People were armed, & those I believe but indifferently.

The Effects of the exertions which the Enemy are making in those two Provinces will, I make no doubt, be exaggerated to us; But upon the whole there is every reason to believe that their Plan is not only to defend North Carolina but to commence offensive

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Operations immediately, which reduces me to the Necessity, if I wanted the inclination, of following the Plan which I had the Honour of transmitting to Your Excellency in my Letter of the 30th June, as the most effectual means of keeping up the Spirits of our Friends & securing this Province. To enable me to begin, I am first using every possible dispatch in transporting to Camden Rum, Salt, Regimental Stores, Arms & Ammunition, which, on Account of the distance & excessive heat of the Season, is a work of infinite Labour & requires a considerable time. In the mean while, the measures that I have directed Lord Rawdon to take will, I trust, put it out of the power of the Enemy to strike a blow at any of our Detachments, or to make any considerable Inroads into this Province. I have the Satisfaction to assure Your Excellency that the Numbers & Disposition of our Militia equal my most sanguine expectations. But still I must confess that their want of Subordination & Confidence in themselves will make a considerable regular Force always necessary for the defence of the province untill North Carolina is perfectly reduced. It will be needless to attempt to take any considerable Number of the South Carolina Militia with us when we advance; they can only be looked upon as light Troops, & we shall find Friends enough in the Province of the same Quality, & we must not undertake to supply too many useless Mouths.

When the Troops march into North Carolina, it will be absolutely necessary to get supplies up some of the principal Rivers of that Province. I therefore thought it proper to apply to Captain Henry to detain the Sandwich, which will be more useful to us than any Frigate in the Service, & could not, in my opinion, be much wanted at New York, where the Admiral will have it in his power to fit up so many Vessels of the same kind. Captain Henry has consented, & I hope with her Assistance and the Galleys to procure a tolerable water communication pretty high up in the Country. The bringing the troops down toward the Coast before the Month of November would be leading them to certain destruction.

I have agreed to the proposal of Mr. Cunningham in the Ninetysix District to raise a Corps on the footing of Major Harrison's, which I believe will be the last Provincial Corps that I shall

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attempt. I have rejected all plans for raising Cavalry, except the Augmentation of the Legion to seventy men a troop.

I inclose a duplicate of a Letter from Governor Tryon with some accounts; the former ones were, I believe, forwarded to You by Brigr. General Paterson.

It gave me great pleasure to hear last night by a Vessel from New York of Your Excellency's safe Arrival.

I have the honour to be,
Your most Obedient & most humble Servant,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, K. B., &c., &c., &c.